Hottest chilli crown under threat

Discussion in 'Members Corner' started by Ray, Feb 18, 2012.

  1. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

    Apr 17, 2009
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    Hottest chilli crown under threat

    Washington, Feb. 17: Fears of a collective failure are threatening the northeastern states: the downgrading of their chillies, which not long ago ascended the dizzying heights on the Scoville heat scale, the acknowledged international yardstick for measuring the heat sensation of chillies.

    Associated Press reported yesterday from Albuquerque that the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion was on the verge of formally displacing the bhut jolokia, grown in the Northeast, primarily in Nagaland, as the world’s hottest chilli.

    The bhut jolokia was declared by Guinness World Records as the world’s hottest chilli in 2007, putting the fruit from the Northeast on the global map. Other chillies grown in the Northeast, such as the Naga Viper, have ascended and descended on the Scoville heat charts periodically, but India has consistently had a pride of place in growing chillies. At one point, the Naga Viper was credited with having 1,382,118 Scoville heat units but this figure was never conclusively validated.

    Bhut jolokia’s rise to fame came after it was established scientifically to have 1,001,304 Scoville heat units. Its challenger in waiting, from the Caribbean, has been measured to be capable of exuding 1.2 million Scoville heat units.

    All may not be lost for the Northeast yet: it may still be possible for the region to protect its standard bearer in agriculture and the culinary world because the Chile Pepper Institute, an international non-profit organisation devoted to “educating the world about the wonders of Chile peppers” has not yet formally crowned the chilli from the Caribbean as the lord of heat.

    But there may not be much time to be lost.

    As part of the Chile Pepper Institute’s research, it planted some 125 varieties of chillies — including the bhut jolokia — and fruits from each variety were picked, dried and ground into powder. Their capsaicinoids, which emit the true chilli sensation were then measured on the Scoville heat scale. That was when the bhut jolokia was displaced by the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion.

    Although the Chile Pepper Institute based in Albuquerque has not yet formally announced the findings of their latest research, the Associated Press interviewed researchers at the institute for an exclusive story and it suggests that the displacement of the northeastern variety of chillies is not far away.

    The acknowledgement by Guinness World Records five years ago that the bhut jolokia was the world’s hottest chilli was also the result of research at the Chile Pepper Institute. Till then, the Red Savina, grown in California, was considered the world’s hottest chilli.

    The Red Savina is not, however, a fruit of natural evolution unlike the ones in the Northeast or in the Caribbean. It was developed by a spice manufacturing company in California and it is protected by the US Plant Variety Protection Act.

    As a result, the method by which it was developed is secret. The Red Savina measures merely a quarter of the bhut jolokia on the Scoville heat scale, according to the Chile Pepper Institute, although there have been claims that its strength could go up to half a million Scoville heat units.

    Ananta Saikia, scientist, horticulture department, College of Agriculture, Assam Agricultural University, Jorhat, said they were not in competition to establish the bhut jolokia as the hottest chilli in the world as the reputation of the chilli has already been established in the world market. “At regular intervals we get to hear that the bhut jolokia has been displaced from the hot seat. First it was Infinity then the Naga Viper and now the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion. However, these are short-lived,” he said.

    Regarding the Chile Pepper Institute’s findings on Trinidad being the hottest chilli on the Scoville test recently, Saikia, who has been conducting extensive research on bhut jolokia for several years now, said this could be because of various reasons and could be suspected to be commercially motivated.

    He said growing chillies in greenhouse conditions adds to the hotness which may sometimes get diluted when grown in natural weather conditions.

    “Adding sulphur to the soil where chillies are grown helps increase the heat level and therefore nothing can be conclusively proved in greenhouse conditions,” he said.

    The scientist alleged that as the Chile Pepper Institute was funded by commercial establishments and that there was scope for a commercial effort for quick gains in the market by some producers.

    Moreover, the Chile Pepper Institute after establishing bhut jolokia as the hottest chilli in Guinness Book of World Records in 2007 had sold 10 seeds of bhut jolokia at five dollars in different parts of the world.

    He said the horticulture department is working on a project to preserve the seeds of bhut jolokia in its pure form as well as produce better quality chillies after cross-breeding.

    “These will be supplied to the farmers for commercial cultivation in the future,” Saikia said.

    North East Institute of Science and Technology director P.G. Rao said they had also created a small farm to grow and preserve the germplasm of bhut jolokia in its pure form and work on any possible diseases which could affect the plant, as bhut jolokia is becoming as viable as tea commercially.
  3. W.G.Ewald

    W.G.Ewald Defence Professionals/ DFI member of 2 Defence Professionals

    Sep 28, 2011
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    North Carolina, USA
    From the article:
    I never knew that sulfur added to the soil where chillies are grown would have that effect. It's amazing what one can learn on DFI. :)
  4. Yusuf

    Yusuf GUARDIAN Administrator

    Mar 24, 2009
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    Sir, as of 2009 or 10, Bhut Jholakia was replaced by the Trinindad thingy. It was a question on KBC for 1crore!!

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